By Adetokunbo Abiola
At around one a.m., Kolade Shittu heard a heavy bang on his door at a hotel in Akure, the Ondo State capital. When he went to the door, he shouted, “who goes there?” No one replied, and an eerie silence and a feeling of menace and danger hung in the air, with darkness like blanket facing him. Frightened, Kolade didn’t close his eyes all through the night, not knowing what next was going to happen.
At one hotel in Calabar, the Cross Rivers State capital, hunger tormented Ntiense Ekanem, and he asked the receptionist for some food. She came around with a plate of white rice and stew with meat. After eating the meal, diarrhea came upon Ntiense, while the sound of shouting voices and wails rent the air, with the victim unable to fall asleep.
At one hotel in Owerri, Imo State, Emeka Nzewi asked the reception for a pillow. Rather than give Emeka what he wanted, the receptionist took him to a phone gallery, where skimpily dressed girls stood around, waiting for customers. A born-again, Emeka felt scandalized and embarrassed.
In Nigeria today, when people visit certain brands of hotels, especially the cheap ones, they mostly feel scandalized and embarrassed. Skimpily dressed girls, egged on by receptionists or hotel officials, harass them for patronage in their sex trade, or strange events happen to them, and patrons keep their eyes open through the night, not knowing what is going to happen.
Some hoteliers say the current power shortage causes the problem, as hotels only get an average of six hours power supply daily from national grid and run their generators to provide electricity for the remaining hours. Some spend so much on diesel to power their generators that it saps their resources, so they switch it off and simply allow darkness to prevail.
In addition, the hotels lack hygiene. Dishwashing and final rinsing operations are very critical in the control of the load of harmful, disease-causing microorganisms that finally get to the food served in such plates, but this isn’t checked, as health officials don’t visit. Consequently, hotel workers wash and rinse plates in such a way that leaves the unsuspecting consumer with a high risk of food-borne infection, and it’s no wonder why Ntiense came up with diarrhea.
Also, hotels provide a haven where sex takes place at a low price. With the downturn in the Nigerian economy, girls of easy virtue see hotels as a place to make easy money, after colluding with the hotel staff. For people with decent dispositions, the scenario reeks of corruption and dirt and loose morals
With hotels patronized by so much loose women as to reek of corruption and dirt, it’s no wonder why staying in cheap hotels become problematic. Add the issue of disease-causing food served at restaurants or room service at hotels to the problems, it doesn’t come as a surprise why some Nigerians feel the nation’s cheap hotels are the worst in the world. With the problem of blackouts, such hotels become a hell on earth.
Unfortunately, consequences arise from these situations. Gbenga stayed at a hotel in Lagos one night, and he came out with terrible tales about the experience.
“This happened to me last year,” he says on Nairaland. “Lodged in a hotel, and after paying N6,000 for a night, I controlled a woman whom I had been wooing to roll over. At night, I realized that the AC wasn’t working. Their generator plant only worked till around 2 a.m and it went off. Bathroom was unkempt, Even the bed sheet wasn’t an exception. The following day, I called the manager and quarreled seriously with him.”
Segun Okinbaloye visited a hotel in Lagos, only to find out it served as a short arrangement for boys and girls to meet.
“The bed was big, room was neat, but I later found three condoms including one stuck inside a hole in the bathroom wall. The hotel manager was even asking me codedly if I wanted anything else. Was too tired to decode then. I slept with one eye open. Woke up early only to find out it was one of those old extra large pre-colonial houses, mostly empty and semi abandoned, nobody was in sight. Later, I found the key where they hung it, opened the gate and ran!”
Speaking at a press conference sometimes ago, President of Hotels Owners Forum, Abuja (HOFA), Dr. Ezeudeh; Ekete Obanga, accused the Federal Government of insensitivity to the plights of Nigerians.
His group asked the government to reverse the electricity tariff hike in the face of the COVID-19 challenges, noting that the increases won’t solve the problem in the hotel sector.
Ms. Joy Abu, a former hotel staff, complained recently about the unhealthy environment of some hotels and popular eateries.
“Most of these eateries have very poor hygiene environment, but people do not know because customers are not allowed into the kitchen or cooking areas.
“It is only the government officials that can carry out impromptu visits to all the big restaurants and hotel kitchens to supervise and ensure that the cooking environments are clean,” she said.
The Kano State Hisbah Board embarked on the mission of preventing prostitutes from patronizing hotels. It banned Shisha smoking, entry of underage children into hotels, prostitution, lesbianism and gay activities in hotel, guesthouses, motels in the state. Whether this will solve the problem is another matter altogether.